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Connected Workforce Firm Poka Adds Schneider Electric as Partner

June 3, 2020
Poka, a connected worker platform built specifically for manufacturers, has raised $6.4 million in new investment led by SE Ventures, the venture capital arm of Schneider Electric, including participation from existing investors.

Poka, a connected worker platform built specifically for manufacturers, has raised $6.4 million in new investment led by SE Ventures, the venture capital arm of Schneider Electric, including participation from existing investors.

The new funds will be used to broaden Poka's global market reach through new distribution strategies and accelerate product development in support of the company's vision to give manufacturers a single hub for operational knowledge and collaboration on the factory floor.

Founded in 2014, Poka is helping some of the largest manufacturers globally — including Bosch, Danone, Mars, The Kraft Heinz Company, Johnson & Johnson and Stanley Black and Decker — achieve operational excellence through digital transformation. Prior investors participating in the financing include Robert Bosch Venture Capital, Groupe Leclerc and CDPQ. Poka has now raised close to $25 million.

The manufacturing sector is undergoing a Fourth Industrial Revolution which represents opportunity and challenges. Increased automation in production and an aging workforce are converging to create a skills gap and exacerbate the need to better support frontline workers in the new smart factory era. 

In response, manufacturers are investing heavily in workforce development as part of their strategic priorities. According to Deloitte's 3rd Annual Industry 4.0 report, training is the number one investment priority for manufacturers in 2020. This represents a significant shift in thinking as only 12% listed training as a priority just two years ago. The global connected worker space is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 19.9% according to Polaris. 

With Poka, factory workers are empowered to learn continuously, solve problems and share knowledge in real-time directly on the production floor – fostering a connected, engaged and autonomous workforce that drives improvements in safety, quality and productivity.

The coronavirus pandemic has only served to raise the importance of digitally connecting frontline workers in light of physical distancing and work from home measures. Poka helps by offering alternatives to on-the-job shadowing, in-person meetings and paper forms and documents. It also ensures production staff across shifts and sites have real-time, remote access to experts as issues arise.

Poka CEO Alex Leclerc shared "Poka was designed specifically to address the challenges and needs of large global manufacturers – many of whom are clients of Schneider Electric," he said.  "Our partnership gives us global reach within our target markets and provides value to our joint customers by offering them a more complete path to digital transformation."

"Schneider Electric is dedicated to building a best in class ecosystem of partners and solutions to support industrial digital transformation," said Mike Jamieson, Segment President for Consumer Packaged Goods at Schneider Electric. "Poka addresses workforce empowerment as a critical part of the digital journey".

General Partner at SE Ventures, Grant Allen, added "The tools and systems used to communicate, capture and share knowledge in commercial production facilities are largely outdated, leaving workers without the necessary information to be effective and safe. Poka is bringing us into the digital age and together with Schneider Electric's unique expertise and global reach will be an agent for much-needed frontline connectivity."

SE Ventures  is a venture capital fund based in Menlo Park, CA with $565 million under management, providing risk capital to big ideas and bold entrepreneurs who can benefit from Schneider Electric's deep domain expertise, R&D assets and global customer base. SE Ventures acts as an advisor, investor, and strategic accelerant for category-defining companies such as AutoGrid, Claroty, Sense and Volta spanning energy, mobility, cybersecurity, proptech, industrial IoT, and automation.

Poka is a connected worker platform built specifically for manufacturers. The company's mission is to provide a hub for operational knowledge in factories by empowering workers to learn, share and collaborate right from the production floor. Poka was the recipient of the 2020 Open Bosch Award in recognition of outstanding innovation and was distinguished as one of 10 Connected Worker vendors in Gartner's Hype Cycle for Manufacturing Operations Strategy, 2019 Report. Poka is trusted by 6 of the 20 largest Consumer Goods companies in the world, and hundreds of plants across the globe.

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